Welcome to Pump Up Your Book’s Virtual Book Tour for Absolute Obsession
Rose Gerbaldi has a loving husband, grown children, and a couple of grandchildren. Still, she experiences periods of time when, as she describes it, she shuts down and needs “me” time. At the age of forty-two, she suspects that she may be entering perimenopause. Not one to follow the lives of celebrities, she normally shuns her coworkers’ lunchtime discussions about them. She also is not much of a reader, but reluctantly agrees to read a recommended work of fiction. Surprisingly, she finds herself drawn into the story and engaging in vivid fantasies about the characters. When she sees the movie adaptation of the book, her fantasies begin encompassing the leading man, Michael Terrance. An interview of Michael touches her so that she is compelled to write him a letter expressing her feelings.
To her surprise, Michael tracks her down and calls her. The two strike up a friendship that is based solely upon increasingly intimate telephone conversations, always initiated by Michael. Rose explains to her husband, Jim, that she provides advice and counsel to Michael, who is twelve years her junior. She keeps Michael, whose movie star lifestyle bears little resemblance to workaday reality, grounded. Jim cautions Rose about allowing the relationship to move beyond friendship.
But, of course, Rose’s feelings for Michael intensify and, to her surprise, Michael reciprocates her feelings even though the two have never met. Because Rose loves Jim, as well as her children, grandchildren, and the life they have shared for so many years, she is unwilling to risk losing everything in order to pursue a deeper relationship with Michael. Reluctantly, she tells Michael that they can have no further contact.
Fate intervenes in both of their lives, however.
Readers considering the plot of C. Elizabeth’s first published novel may think that the plot sounds contrived and unbelievable. After all, why would a film star pick up the phone and reach out to a stranger from whom he received a fan letter? Because of my own life experience, which resulted in one of the closest, dearest friendships I have ever enjoyed, I know that it could happen, even though it is highly improbable and unlikely.
Absolute Obsession is the fantasy-turned-reality tale pf Rose Gerbaldi who, despite her many blessings, still struggled with bouts of depression and insomnia (although those terms are never used in the book). Her escape into fantasy actually improves her relationship with her husband, Jim, because Rose’s active imagination rekindles their romantic life and revives her appreciation of her husband. Rose’s principled, honorable core is believable — she would never deliberately hurt her family. So when her connection to the much-younger Michael grows too personal and tempting, Rose’s termination of the relationship is plausible and admirable.
Less believable is Michael’s strong reaction to losing Rose, with whom he believes he has fallen in love even though he has not only never met her, but has never even seen a photograph of her. His life begins spiraling out of control, although his behavior appears not to interfere with his career, another questionable point. Meanwhile, Rose faces her greatest challenge and the course of her future changes. The manner in which Rose and Michael are reunited strains credulity, but catapults the story into its second phase.
Absolute Obsession suffers from some flaws common to first-time novels, but once readers suspend their disbelief, it is a pleasant bit of escapist fare. Elizabeth’s exploration of her characters’ emotions feels incomplete, particularly with regard to the upheaval and anxiety Rose is experiencing at the outset, leaving readers to fill in the gaps using their own imagination and interpretation. Additionally, the dialogue is often stilted and fails to ring entirely true, especially as to Michael’s stated reasons for his breakdown.
Still, Elizabeth’s story will appeal to readers who believe in two literary concepts: Fate and unrequited, destined-to-be love. She also offers a timely glimpse into the often surreal world of celebrity from the perspective of an uncomplicated person like Rose, who gradually comes to understand the pressures Michael faces each day, how complicated it can be for paparazzi-stalked celebrities to embark upon the most basic excursion, and why someone of Michael’s professional stature would so desperately crave some semblance of normalcy and privacy. By the end of the book, even the most demanding reader will find him or herself cheering for Rose and Michael, both of whom are ultimately endearing characters in their own right. Elizabeth’s writing style and storytelling ability show promise, and I look forward to reading her next novel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Absolute Obsession free of charge from the author in conjunction with the Pump Up Your Book review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Enter to Win a Copy of Absolute Obsession
Author C. Elizabeth has generously provided one copy of Absolute Obsession to be awarded to a lucky Colloquium reader!
Post a comment in which you answer this question: Have you ever enjoyed a friendship with a celebrity? If so, how did your relationship with that individual impact your life? Then submit your entry utilizing the Rafflecopter widget. Note: Your entry will not be counted unless you answer the question in your comment!
Bonus entries also available (see below).